In a letter dated July 16, 2012, the Director of the Washington Department of Ecology announced that Ecology is modifying its approach to adopting fish consumption rates, which are rates that impact regulatory standards for the protection of surface water and sediment. Ecology has been under pressure because both industry and environmental groups have been critical of Ecology’s process. In response to this criticism, Ecology will revise its approach in four ways. First, it will reissue the report that provides technical information on current fish consumption rates in an effort to allow additional public input and with a goal of issuing a final document by year end. Second, it will take steps to begin the rulemaking process for new human health criteria in Surface Water Quality Standards that will be based on the new fish consumption rates, essentially allowing the development of new fish consumption rates and the rulemaking process to proceed on parallel tracks. Third, it will update the Sediment Management Standards requiring the use of a reasonable maximum exposure standard, rather than including a default fish consumption rate, clearly anticipating that the updated fish consumption rate will define the reasonable maximum exposure. Finally, Ecology will work on the implementation tools intended to provide permit holders with options for complying with water quality standards and will continue on a separate but parallel track.
A copy of the July 16th letter can be found here.